Alexander: Woe, Canada! 30 years without a Stanley Cup (2024)

The world according to Jim:

• Is the Curse of Marty McSorley going to end in the next couple of weeks? …

• OK. Maybe it’s not officially a thing. But the facts remain: The Montreal Canadiens beat the Kings for the Stanley Cup in 1993, and the series turned late in regulation in Game 2 when Canadiens coach Jacques Demers asked for a measurement of McSorley’s stick. The Kings, moments away from taking a 2-0 series lead on Canadiens home ice, were penalized. Montreal scored with a 6-on-4 advantage to tie the game and won in overtime, won the next two in Inglewood in OT, and won the series in five.

And no Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup in the three decades since. Six have reached the Final in 29 Stanley Cup playoffs (the 2004-05 season was canceled), and four of those series went seven games. Could it be any more excruciating? …

• There will be a seventh attempt beginning Saturday night, when Edmonton faces Florida. And while the Oilers have the game’s best player in Connor McDavid, they are the betting underdogs. Wonder why. …

• The Athletic’s Ian Mendes wrote a piece this week headlined: “Why the Oilers are not ‘Canada’s team’ in the Stanley Cup Final.” The reasoning is simple: If your team can’t win it, why would you want one of your rivals to have bragging rights throughout Canada? …

• The lore behind McSorley’s illegal stick penalty is that a number of Kings suspected Canadiens’ personnel of commandeering the stick rack before the series and doing an impromptu inspection, providing Demers with information on which sticks to challenge if needed. McSorley acknowledged at the time and in succeeding years that, yes, his stick had an illegal curve, but maintained it came that way from the factory – and he said years later that he used a stick with the same curvature the next two games with nary a peep.

“To make a call like that is really, really gutsy,” he said in 2012. “To find out later that they knew, and how they knew, was really, really disappointing.”

Demers never came right out and admitted skullduggery but did cop to advance knowledge, and desperation. Before Game 3 at The Forum – Inglewood’s Forum, not Montreal’s – he told us: “I had 20 players in front of me who knew the sticks were illegal … I don’t call it all the time because sometimes it doesn’t need to be called. We called it because it was an emergency situation for us.” …

• For years, of course, we suspected the Curse afflicted the Kings, but they won Cups in 2012 and ’14. I think it’s obvious now that karma has taken effect north of the 49th parallel.

• Meanwhile, Corey Perry is now an Oiler and will be making his fourth attempt for a second ring, to go with the one he won in Anaheim in 2007 (the Ducks beat Ottawa that year in five games). Perry lost with Dallas in the 2020 Final, Montreal in 2021 and Tampa Bay in 2022. …

• Remember when early June used to be special here on an annual basis?

The last Stanley Cup Final here was in 2014. The last NBA Finals in L.A. was 2010 (the Lakers’ 2020 title run was played entirely in Orlando). The Clippers’ Western Conference finals run in 2021 came at the end of a 72-game regular season that didn’t begin until Dec. 22, with the playoffs not starting until May 22, and in more ways than one it was an outlier. …

• A classic moment this week: Justin Turner picked up his 1,500th career hit as a Toronto Blue Jay, and in his comments after the game added this: “It’s pretty cool and hopefully I can play another 16 years and get to 3,000 looking like Bernie Mac out there.”

Justin Turner is a national treasure. (Both nations.) https://t.co/nNbrPXpGIE

— Jim_Alexander (@Jim_Alexander) June 6, 2024

I mean, who else would reference the movie “Mr. 3000?” Who else remembers the movie “Mr. 3000?” (The plot of the 2004 flick is that the Bernie Mac character came out of retirement at 47 when he realized he was short of 3,000 hits.)

J.T. is only 39. He’s got time. …

• We now have had two lifetime suspensions in a little over a month and a half issued to players who bet on their own sport. Is there maybe a sense that in pro sports’ determination to create commercial opportunities with casinos and legal sports books, players have been allowed to forget that betting on your own sport is the third rail of this industry?

There used to be signs in every baseball clubhouse reminding players of the do’s and don’ts, and particularly that gambling was the biggest of don’ts. They might still hang in the players-only areas. I don’t know. But maybe they need to be bigger and more prominent. …

• And somewhere, Pete Rose is – ah, let’s not go there. …

• It’s also worth noting that in the case of Jontay Porter, banned by the NBA in April, irregularities were brought to the league’s attention by licensed betting operators. It is, after all, in their interest as well as that of the leagues that there be no hint of impropriety. …

• We lost another of the good ones this week, gone way too soon. Taylor Dockins was a record-setting softball pitcher at Norco High and an inspiration at Cal State Fullerton, continuing to play and persevere while dealing with liver cancer. She told me in a 2019 interview that she found it weird that she could inspire other people, and said that softball was her refuge.

“You know, there’s more hard days than good days,” she said. “But I’ve just got to keep pushing through and keep a good attitude and mindset. I think having a strong attitude and a strong mindset throughout this whole process is big. It’s important.”

Over the weekend, the Titan Softball social media account announced that she had passed away and added: “We will carry her spirit with us and honor her every time we put on a Titans uniform.”

Rest in peace, Tay.

jalexander@scng.com

We are saddened to hear the passing of Titan alum Taylor Dockins. Taylor was truly an angel, a sister, a humble warrior and remains a Titan forever. We will carry her spirit with us and honor her every time we put on a Titans uniform. #TusksUp | #PlayLikeTay pic.twitter.com/PXHHvxMLrs

— Titans Softball (@Fullerton_SB) June 3, 2024

Alexander: Woe, Canada! 30 years without a Stanley Cup (2024)
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